Why Email Metrics Are in Decline: eMarketer

Experts point to list fatigue

JULY 26, 2010 – As email open and click rates continue to drop, marketers will need to put ever more effort into segmentation and personalization to seem relevant amid the inbox clutter of tired email recipients, research suggests.

Open rates continued a steady decline around the world, according to MailerMailer�s �Email Marketing Metrics Report,� dropping from 12% in the first half of 2009 to 11.2% in the second half.

The report suggested several factors that might contribute to fewer opens, including cluttered inboxes, the rising use of mobile devices and the common habit of turning email images off, which can prevent an open being triggered.

Broken down by industry, agriculture, religion, transportation and large businesses had the highest open rates, while entertainment, banking, marketing and medicine had the lowest.

Click rates suffered a much worse descent in the second half of 2009, dropping more than 38% from the first half and nearly 43% from the same period of the previous year.

Again, MailerMailer suggested inbox clutter or list fatigue was a problem, but also noted that anti-phishing security measures sometimes stop links from going live. Email recipients must then take two actions�one to enable the links, and a second one to click on them.

The industry breakdown was similar to the one for open rates, with religion, transportation, environmental and retail emails coming out on top. Legal, marketing, entertainment and restaurant industry emails had the lowest click rates.

According to MailerMailer, the vast majority of actions will take place in the first 72 hours after sending a message, including about 90% of opens. Experian Cheetahmail similarly reported that in March 2010, 92% of opens and 93% of clicks came within the first three days, with 98% of opens and clicks coming within seven days after sending the messages.

That study found messages from nonprofits saw the fastest opens, while catalogers were quickest to be clicked on. Marketers can speed up interaction rates with tactics like limited-time offers in email subject lines, but some industries, like travel, should expect a longer lead time due to the nature of their products and services.

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